No, I didn't dissapear. That'll come in about a week when I'm on vacation. Meanwhile, nothing new I've seen really merits a strong review one way or the other. THIS, on the other hand...
So, by now you've heard Dubya actually managed to find a form of Government spending he WON'T sign off on. Unsurprisingly, it involves a big sopping-wet asskiss to the anti-science, anti-freedom and anti-American "religious right."
Let's get the basics out of the way, in the event that not everyone is versed in this business since, after all, not everyone expects a political aside on a movie blog. In simplest terms, "Stem Cells" are cells that don't have any "identity" yet. Thus, they take on the properties and function of whatever cells they are inserted among, meaning that they can potentially be used to grow back vital tissues that do not naturally regenerate: Like brain matter lost to parkinsons or alzheimers, or dead nerves of paraplegics. You can get these stem cells from various sources, but thus far the richest supplies tend to come from ultra-early-term embryos which are BURSTING with the aforementioned "blank" cellular material. Since, logically, you have to bust-up said early-term embryos to get the material, this is naturall opposed by the self-described "Pro-Life" lobby which holds the religious belief that personhood and all the rights attendent there-to exist from the moment of conception.
Got that? Okay, so... there's basically two ways to get Embryonic Stem Cells in the necessary quantities to perform the research to discover how much they can actually do. Way #1 is to get them from the "excess" embryos created and then frozen as byproduct of In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF, aka "test tube baby") clinics. Despite the fact that these byproduct-embryos are innevitably destroyed anyway, this still hacks-off the anti-choice crowd. Way #2, still mostly theoretical, is generally called "thereapeutic cloning," and would involve using cloning to manufacture hundreds of identical embryos to procure a stable line of cells. This REALLY hacks-off the anti-choice crowd, and is also in murky legal-waters given the hundreds of knee-jerk "cloning BAD!!!!" laws passed across the planet in reaction to Dolly the Sheep.
Anyhow, back before 9/11 the first "big" thing Dubya got to do as president was sign off on what would be the immediate future of this science. As he'd largely run and won as an open comrade-in-arms of the anti-choice lobby, it could be safely assumed science and medicine were NOT going to win any ground. His faux-Solomonic decision: No cloning, no more new IVF harvesting, you can ONLY work with the lines you've already created. Or, to put it in broader terms: "Feel free to try and finish the building, but it's now illegal to buy or make new bricks." In fairness, this applied ONLY to Federal (read: taxpayer) funded research, and private companies were free to do as they want (and have, for the most part.)
Skip ahead to this week, and new largely Democrat-backed legislation to expand the Federal funding for the research makes it's way to the executive branch. This is, lets be honest, the Democrat equivalent of the Gay Marriage Ban: No one is expecting to "win" or for him to sign, the point is to get the prez and everyone else to declare a solid stance on the issue; primarily so that the Dems can make an issue of it in the November elections, hopefully forcing Republicans up for re-election to have to explain to their parkinsons, alzheimers and paralysis-afflicted constituents (and their families) why they're party doesn't want to help them find cures.
So, it's a political shell-game on both sides, and anyone can see that. That being said, here's why I'm pissed off...
Look, as a fiscal Libertarian I generally feel the Government shouldn't be funding all that much with tax money, and does so WAY too much right now. However, since we do after all live in the real world I understand that A.) sometimes it's unavoidable and B.) if we're going to federally fund anything, medical research ought to be right at the top of the list. As we DO already fund medical research, basic ethics dictate that we should do so fairly and in 100% in the spirit of the laws of the United States. If we are going to make decisions as to what should and should not be funded in medical research, we MUST make them based ONLY on matters of law and practicality: Is the research LEGAL and is the research PRACTICAL. That's all.
And that's why, while President Bush has the full right to veto the bill, which he did; his reasons for doing so both stated and implied should NOT have been the deciding factor, and should NEVER enter in to policymaking. President Bush vetoed the bill because he has a RELIGIOUS belief that there are such things as souls, and that embryos have them, and thus "destroying" embryos to get stem cells is "murder." The president has the right to live his life by these beliefs. He does NOT have the right to force me, you, or anyone else in America to live our lives by these beliefs. Bottom Line.
Mr. President, this is not Iran. This is not Saudi Arabia. This is not Afghanistan under the Taliban. This is not a nation of rule-by-religion. This is AMERICA. We are a modern nation. We are THE modern nation. We are a nation that helped pull the world, kicking-and-screaming, out of the Dark Ages and into Enlightment. When we make law, we make it on the basis of FACT and REASON... not FAITH. Whatever beliefs you hold or do not hold in your own life, When you take pen in hand to chart the course of the future for ALL Americans (indeed, all the world,) you owe it to them to act as a thinker... not a believer. When you took the stage this week and vetoed this bill, openly stating that you do so because of YOU'RE religious belief that embryos were sacred, surrounded by women holding actual infants in a staging that'd make TED KENNEDY shudder at it's manipulative smugness, what you did was spit in the face of Thomas Jefferson, and flip the bird to Thomas Paine.
What kind of precedent does this set, after all? What the president has done, just like in the Terri Schaivo debacle, is to decree that the Government can ban or de-fund things for ALL citizens in order to comply with the religious doctrine of SOME citizens... so where does that end? Do we next ask the government to bust-up the Beef industry because American Hindus believe cattle are sacred? Do we limit the lumber industry because Druids wish to protect the souls of trees? Will we restrict the fashion industry from making skimpy clothing for women because Muslims dislike the public baring of female skin?
One thing is for sure: IF the Republicans actually do lose the House or Senate in November... THIS will be the reason a lot of voters give for showing them the door.